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Old 03-18-2012, 06:49 PM   #1
grimstuff
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Default starter step-up question for high gravity beer

Tried to search for this answer, but didn't find anything that helped... hopefully i can get some tips from you guys:

I am doing an Imperial Stout, extract/specialty grain brew ~1.085 OG.

I am doing a starter with White Labs British Ale yeast.

Must I start with only a 1 pint wort for the starter? Or can I do the entire MrMalty recommended amount at once? (2 liters). I assume that if I should do just the pint at first, I also scale down the amount of malt extract to use, and use the rest for the step-ups.

This is how I want to do it:

2 liter water, boil with 1 cup LME (don't have any DME) as per recommendations I received in a prior thread. Follow starter instruction on page 74 Palmer.

Contrasted with how I think it might have to be done:

1 pint water, boil with 1/4 cup LME, follow Palmer directions. One thing about this is that Palmer doesn't give instructions on how to stepup the starter, just refers to it being "built up".


Thanks so much for your help.

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Old 03-18-2012, 07:30 PM   #2
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If you do the smaller starter, the yeast will consume the available sugars faster. The point of a starter is to give yeast an environment that they can reproduce in. I would definitely do the full starter. If you are worried about the extra liquid you can put in in the fridge after 24 hours, crash the yeast out for a day, and then decant it. Just let the yeast return to room temperature before pitching.

I know there are thousands of ways to make a starter, but I do 4 cups water and 1 cup DME.

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Old 03-18-2012, 07:35 PM   #3
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Also, there is a common misconception that starters should be made 3 days in advance. Watch this video. I'm following the scientists advice...

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Old 03-18-2012, 07:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbreienrk1 View Post
Also, there is a common misconception that starters should be made 3 days in advance.
This. 24 hours is all you need, starter the night before.

Also, I've brewed dozens of high gravity beers - making a standard culture, all at once. I go 3-4L per 10 gallons, O2 and stirplate (foil, no fermentation lock!), and use white labs yeast nutrient. In 15 years, I've had a stuck fermentation exactly once. I also pitch the entire starter, liquid and all.

LME is a pain for making starter, it's difficult to measure, as it sticks to the interior of whatever you're using to measure it / weigh it. I keep a sizeable quantity of extra light DME around just for starters. A bit of googling says that 20% more LME than you would use DME is appropriate. I go 100 grams DME per liter, so 120 grams (by weight) of LME per liter should be good.

http://www.homebrewing.org/How-to-Ma...r_ep_35-1.html
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:52 PM   #5
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Great, thanks for the responses! I did a 3 liter starter using 1.5 cups LME (same LME from my recipe), intermittently shook it for about 24 hours, then pitched it into 70 degree wort. The starter had maybe 2-3mm of yeast slurry on the bottom of the jar before I pitched it.

It's about 18 hours later, and there seems to be healthy activity occurring. But, like my first batch, I forgot to take an OG reading! This stuff is supposed to sit for a year, so I know I will have plenty of time to kick myself.

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Old 03-20-2012, 05:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grimstuff View Post
It's about 18 hours later, and there seems to be healthy activity occurring. But, like my first batch, I forgot to take an OG reading! This stuff is supposed to sit for a year, so I know I will have plenty of time to kick myself.
LOL sorry to hear that.
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Old 03-20-2012, 05:37 PM   #7
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The key for maximum propogation is to keep the starter dilute, around 50 million cells per mL which equates to 1 Wyeast pack in 2 liters. This starter will yield just over 2 billion cells (approx. 110% of the original quantity). To step this up, you would want to continue the 50 million (or less) per mL for the next starter. This requires a 4L step-up (2 billion divided by 50 million) which would result in about 450 billion yeast cells.

I have found that a single 2L starter is good enough for just about everything I have done, unless you start going over 1.090 gravities.

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Old 04-06-2012, 02:10 PM   #8
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Planning my first barley wine brew (OG to be ~ 1.105) in a week, and have already started my starter... but have a few questions on DME concentration in starter and on stepping up starters.

A) Everything I've read says for starters, use DME prepared at gravity of 1.030 - 1.040. My novice brain says I should increase the starter gravity as I step it up (I was going to go for ~ 1.075 for the final starter expansion). My though is that this will "acclimate" the yeasts to higher gravities/osmotic pressures in prep for pitching into the ~ 1.105 wort. What's wrong with my logic?

B) As far as stepping up starters, my plan was: Step 1: I've started with a single White labs tube into ~ 1.5 qt starter of 1.035 OG, and am letting it go for ~ 2 1/2 days. Step 2: Cold crash for a day, then split into two 1.5 qt starters at same OG for another 2 1/2 days, then (Step 3) crash a day, decant spent media, and replenish with ~ 1.5 qt DME at ~ 1.050 OG to each of two starters. Finally (Step 4), step up each starter to ~ 3qts DME at ~1.075 OG for another 2 1/2 days, crash day before brew day, decant and pitch slurry - I'm making a 10g batch, so one 3qt starter into each of two 5g fermentors. Finally my questions: will the bump up in DME OG (Step 3) at the same volume for Step 2 really give me more cells, and if the answer to question A is to stay at starter OGs of less than 1.040, and I reduce the OG of the Step 3 DME, will that revised procedure give me more cells? Or should I just skip the Step 3 "replenish" at same volume and go to Step 4 (3 qt at whatever appropriate OG is based on answers to question A).

I always have fermentations that take a long time to finish (even with starters in ~ 1.075 gravity worts), so I'm hoping to get the process right for this first really big beer.

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Old 04-06-2012, 02:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gofastr1 View Post
Planning my first barley wine brew (OG to be ~ 1.105) in a week, and have already started my starter... but have a few questions on DME concentration in starter and on stepping up starters.

A) Everything I've read says for starters, use DME prepared at gravity of 1.030 - 1.040. My novice brain says I should increase the starter gravity as I step it up (I was going to go for ~ 1.075 for the final starter expansion). My though is that this will "acclimate" the yeasts to higher gravities/osmotic pressures in prep for pitching into the ~ 1.105 wort. What's wrong with my logic?
The point of a starter is to grow yeast, which is why that 1.040 gravity is ideal. If you make the starter at a higher gravity, the yeast have to work harder, they get into a higher alcohol environment, etc... less conductive to growth. You end up with fewer viable yeast cells for your actual beer, which was the whole darned reason hat you made a starter to begin with.
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Old 04-06-2012, 06:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewdad View Post
The point of a starter is to grow yeast, which is why that 1.040 gravity is ideal. If you make the starter at a higher gravity, the yeast have to work harder, they get into a higher alcohol environment, etc... less conductive to growth. You end up with fewer viable yeast cells for your actual beer, which was the whole darned reason hat you made a starter to begin with.
+1

don't wear out the yeast, the point of a starter is to get lots of HEALTHY yeast to pitch.
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